The fifth day of my frist Missions trip. Book of Hope Day 5. Guatemala 2004.
Thursday, March 11, 11:00 PM
Well, today was another great day. I woke up refreshed for some reason even though I haven’t been getting that much sleep this week. Our first school to visit was on the top of a mountain. Definitely a fun drive going to the top of the mountain, we got to look and see the beautiful scenery (mountains and volcanoes) in the morning. Going out to the mountain, we saw people walking up the road – amazing. This road went straight up the mountain for a few miles until we got the school. What a wonderful view from the school playground area.
1 st school (1990-2003): We were to give the presentation on this dirt field – very large and dusty. We brought the soccer ball with us, so Aaron, Pete, Jim, and I played around with that while we were waiting for the kids to come. Heidi was also feeling sick and puked at the edge of the field (and when I say field, I mean hard dirt ground). Pete with his usual fantastic soccer skills almost kicks the ball over the edge once, and then his second time with the ball just punts it off the edge of the field. This was about the same place Heide puked – good job Pete. Aaron went in down after the ball and Pete tried to follow. Pete wasn’t able to get back up the hill, so Jim went partly down and I held onto Jim and we pulled Pete up the hill. We did the usual skits we do, but during one of the skits Heidi decided to try something new. She played dead rather then doing one of the other tricks in the bag. This was the dirtiest and dustiest place we had been ever – what an interesting time to try this one out. And Celeste didn’t even notice what she was doing either. This was the first school of the day to give us food after our presentation. So generous, and we have to eat the food because we don’t want to offend these people. Especially since they are all poor, and if we turn down their offer to us, that just makes us look stuck up and pious. Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
2 nd school (2012-2020): We were now back the school we were at yesterday – the poorest school we had been to. This time we were there in the morning and therefore a different set of students than the day before. The kids all came out and gathered around us completely so they all could see. These kids are so poor and go to school and live in a very poor, dirty, and disgusting environment. These are the kids that can come to our Hopefest later tonight. The church where we will be doing this hopefest is located in this incredibly poor area. Even during our presentation we had some people watch us from a house that could look into the school. It’s amazing what a few Americans symbolize and the power we have to influence this kids. After passing out the books and bracelets we were on our way. But the amazing thing with this group is that many of the kids and teachers there asked for additional copies of the book to give to their friends or kids that weren’t there. How awesome is that, these people are so grateful and want to share anything they get with others.
3 rd school (2022-2046): This school was pretty small and the area we had for our presentation was really small as well. We got there during their recess, so Jim, I, and Pete kicked the ball around with the kids for a little while. While setting up I realized that somehow a speaker had blown and now we were down to one speaker. Not cool at all.
4 th school (2056-2073): This school was a lot of fun. We got there during their recess with plenty of time to play with the kids. We setup the music and played that a little during the recesses – some of the team members starting doing a little bit of funny dancing for the kidsWe had a lot of time to get to talk with the kids before the presentation. I asked many of them their names, while other tried to teach them a little bit of English. I had them try to get my age – 31, wow. . This is all just so much fun. We had such a large area to present, it was awesome. Because of this, Jim and I thought it would be fun if we used an actual soccer ball in our skit rather than faking like we were kicking one around. There were a lot of kids at this school and the large area made it fun to present.
5 th school (2088-2105): This was our final school for the day and we were pretty exhausted already, but we still have the hopefest to do tonight. This school had some a wide range of ages and wasn’t a very responsive crowd at all. After the presentation and handing out the books we invited all of them to the hopefest later that night offering the bracelets as a gimmick to get them to come. The school had their recess after the presentation which is usually fun for us. But this time was a bit different. I think every kid came out with a small pad of paper to have each of us sign our names in. I signed my name over and over again for probably 30 minutes straight. Totally awesome, then they school had some Cokes and sandwiches for us to eat even though just had lunch. These kids were a lot of fun, and energetic after the presentation. Some of the even wanted us to sign their shirts.
We were now done with schools for the day, but we wanted to go back to the overlook that overlooks the city where we were at earlier in the week to pray before the hopefest. Up there I learned that Celeste and Kathy get scared really easily, maybe it’s because they act just like mothers. Don’t get near the edge, or do any sort of playing around up there where you might fall off. What fun to mess with them.
After getting back from overlook, we ate dinner then hurried off to setup for the Hopefest. We got there a little after 7, even though we said we would start at 7. I guess there is a Latin America time about 30 minutes later than stated. Because the place only filled up around 7:30 when we finished setting up.
What an event – the Hopefest. We were in this very little place. It was made of a concrete slab with some 2x4s making the frame of the entire place. Covering the 2x4s was some tin, which made up all sides and roof. There was one small door at the back, one outlet in the front and some lights that hung from overhead. The entire church could have been built for $500, no bathroom or anything, just a slab of concrete enclosed with some tin. Apparently plastic lawn chairs are the cheapest chairs around, so that is what seems to be used a lot, to fill the church, at the dinner table, everywhere.
Well a quick rundown of the actual Hopefest. We were planning to start off with a song, then a skit and testimony, then another song, skit, testimony, then another song followed by our big skit then a short message. Well here is how it turned out.
We had already lost one speaker earlier in the day, so we were down to one speaker for the hopefest, and because the place was made of tin, the acoustics were not pleasant either. I had a very hard time trying to prevent feedback in the room. So we start off our first song and all seems to go well, except the fact that we didn’t have enough cables to hook up the keyboard so, that couldn’t be heard. During the song though, the guitar would seem to come in and out. The connection was fine; the wire was not be moved or anything, yet the guitar would suddenly go dead. I would try to mess with the sound controls to get it back but that didn’t help. Then it would come back in, and it would be really loud because I was messing with things and I would turn it down, etc. This happened several times, no explanation for this at all. Then near the end of the song, a string on the guitar broke. Things are just going well huh?
So as Pete is trying to get a new string on the Guitar, we have to switch up which skit we are going to do, and then stars confusion. I wasn’t supposed to share my testimony, but since the skit was changed, it was now my turn to share. I did my part, but then we were supposed to go into song again. While setting up for the song, it turns out Pete put the wrong string on the guitar and it was sounding really bad, so scrap that. Another skit instead. Setup, get into places, the whole team is confused. Who is doing what roles in the skit, etc. It’s getting pretty chaotic now. Nevertheless we make it through the skit and share, but what are we doing next? Can we do a song? What should we be getting ready for?
During the testimony we decided to scrap the song, and go into our sort of finishing skit, ‘Puppet Master.’ This place is really small, we have never had so little room to work with. This skit needs more room than we are given, for the fact that the skit has 9 people in it. There is supposed to be many steps across the stage back and forth and such. But we get doing it very packed together and don’t do too bad given the room. But then at the main transitional point in the skit where many of us fall to the sides, one of the girls accidentally hits the sound system knocking out the sound. The skit is entirely musically based, all the cues are to the music, there are no words or anything in the skit at all. I was on the other side of the room, in my position, and could really go check it out. None of us knew what to do, we were mid-skit. Our leader just said for us to go on without the music. We agreed, but didn’t know how we would do it at all, because we relied upon the musical cues to tell us when to do stuff. So we got up and just had to whisper to each other when to make each transition and we all had to watch each other and try to stay in step. The skit completed, but what a mess, this skit was saved for this one purpose. It was for the culmination of the week and everything, and it went miserably. To work so hard on that skit and have it go just completely wrong the one and only time it was to be performed was somewhat discouraging.
After an explanation of the skit, it’s time for Pete to give a short message. He does, through our translator. I again had a hard time preventing feedback with two microphones and one speaker with the acoustics of the room. Then Pete gave the opportunity for anybody to come who wanted to be Saved. Nobody came for a while, then a young kid, then another, until there were about twelve kids up there. Awesome huh? Then Pete gave the opportunity for anybody to come up for healing and the team would pray over them. A woman came with her child who had a fever, then another woman, then another and another. We prayed over them for quite some time. It was amazing to really see God working during this time. I have never experiences the praying in tongues thing before (when you pray in a language only understood by God), so that was a first for me. It got pretty crowded up there with everybody up near the front. It was interesting to see this one woman we were praying for just start jumping up and down for over ten minutes saying something that nobody could understand while we were praying for her. She was just so happy. Eventually the excitement at the front died down and we were done with our part of the ‘Hopefest.’
Then the pastor came to speak to the people. I didn’t know what he was saying to them, but eventually it turned out they were going to take an offering for us. How could they do that? These people have nothing. Some of them probably have jobs, but even with jobs they have nowhere close to as much as a homeless person here in America has. But, they did take up an offering, even though we didn’t want them to, and we accepted it. It turned out to amount to about $12. This just was amazing that these people would give in their poor state to us, to us! We make more money in one year than these people may see in a lifetime, but yet they give us the little money they have. They knew we were from the US , they know how much better off we probably are. I mean we did pay to come there for 1 week just to see these people. You can’t do that unless you have some amount money – significantly more than they do.
After this we gave out bracelets and then started to pack up. Even during this the people there did not leave. The pastor told them to leave several times, but they still sat there. This was weird to me, because the people were very unresponsive to us – in my opinion. I felt as if, they were bored the whole time, but then why would they not leave? I guess there are just cultural differences that I don’t understand. It was a little after 9 pm now. Some of the team members were talking with some of kids and other people there. Then the translator kept telling us to hurry up and get going. That was annoying, we were in no big rush, we had nothing else to do that night. But then we finally all got into the van. Then our translator tells us to lock the doors and windows and to not open them. I asked her if she was just kidding, and she sternly said, ‘No.’ Hmmmm. Then our driver drives like a maniac out of there. We must have been doing like 50 miles an hour through those dirt roads and around the corners to get back home. We have never taken those roads faster than like 25 before. Our translator then explains that the gangs are pretty bad in that area of town, that at least one person will end up dead each night due to gang violence. Then on top of that, this was like 10 Americans all in one van in this part of town. Talk about a target, they knew we have money or could get it quickly. Nevertheless, we made it home just fine, a little bit of a rough ride, but we were home safe.
The following is some notes taken when the team was talking about how the hopefest went and what happened and all.
Hopefest is a big deal, but not the only deal. We can’t look at the hopefest as how fruitful the whole trip was.
Celest: Any victory that happened tonight must have been because of God; it was nothing to do with us. We were stripped of everything that could have allowed us to take any credit for ourselves.
Kevin: No matter how much preparation we do, it all depends on God.
One of the hardest things on missions trips is being served by the nationals. So humbling, we have so much they have so little, yet they are the ones serving us. They took an offering for us… I think there is a reason why we didn’t have dinner at his house. Yet he is so grateful in the midst of it all. He loves us and the people around him so much.
Pete: I’ve never seen that many things go wrong in such a little amount of time.
One speaker, guitar coming in and out, broken string, wrong string back on, sound out in puppet master, forget money for skit. Totally out of order and complete chaos. Felt us praying for him while he was speaking. We look at kids and say, ‘they are kids’, but these kids came on their own. Heaven rejoices over even one. When we pray for healing, whatever happens is between God and that person. Felt like God was really moving in the woman that was jumping up and down. Hope nobody was freaked out about praying in tongues, felt like the Holy Spirit was really working. Thinks couldn’t have gone worse, but things couldn’t have gone better. If we want to know if we met expectations, look at the pastor. Even though they weren’t responsive during the dramas, there is a different church culture we were dealing with. They wouldn’t leave even thought they were told to leave several times. Even if nobody responded, or even shown up, God would have seen it as a success because we were faithful.